Professional sports teams not only deliver thrills to a city, they sometimes deliver gifted young athletes who become pillars of the community.
Vinny Lecavalier is an example of that phenomenon.
So it was sad to learn Thursday that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Lecavalier are parting ways after 14 seasons wearing the lightning bolt on his jersey.
He's played in more games and scored more goals than any other Lightning player. He won a Stanley Cup, appeared in four all-star games, led the league in goals one year, and had 12 consecutive seasons with 20 or more goals. He was the captain, the face of a popular hockey franchise in the unlikliest of places.
Off the ice, Lecavalier is a family man and benefactor of charitable causes, most notably the children's hospital in St. Petersburg. Six years ago, he committed $3 million from his foundation to build the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Talk about giving back.
We hope Lecavalier ends his career somewhere to his liking, but that he continues to call the Tampa area his home and serve as an inspiration to us all.